This week, the Royals’ offense did what was needed to win against another struggling team: score first. In two out of the three games versus Cleveland, the Royals did just that. They also took game one in a come from behind win. Winning a series against a division opponent is always a plus. It gives a team a boost in morale and some momentum heading into the weekend series where they will be hosting another division foe, the Chicago White Sox.
Zack Greinke and Bruce Chen got wins, and Joakim Soria has picked up two saves. They did, however, lose a heartbreaker to Cleveland in the third game of the series despite a strong performance from Kyle Davies. The offense gave Greinke just enough for a win while giving Chen nine runs for support. The Royals also did not commit any errors in the series while Cleveland made five in the series finale alone. The Royals could do some division ladder climbing if they are able to take the series from Chicago and follow up with a three-game set at Detroit. Are they out of the pennant race? Not officially, but at this point in the season, they would have to get really, really, hot.
The Royals will seek to win a series against the White Sox for the first time since June of this year. In fact, the last time these two teams played, the White Sox swept the Royals right after a great winning trend out west right before the All-Star break.
Game 1: Edwin Jackson (7-10) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (1-4)
Edwin Jackson is coming off probably his most disappointing start of the entire season. He struck out eleven in seven innings of work while giving up only one earned run. He did not get the win. He has given up one earned run in each of his starts this month but has only one win to show for it. His ERA has dropped well under five during this run. It had been as high as 5.16.
O’Sullivan has yet to pitch against the White Sox in either of his first two seasons in the majors. If he wants to notch his first win as a Royal, he will have to do it against a tough Chicago team that at one point in the season led the division.
Game 2: Freddy Garcia (10-5) vs. Bryan Bullington (1-2)
Freddy Garcia is no stranger to the Royals. He is in his second stint with Chicago after two seasons spent in Philadelphia and Detroit respectfully. On May 5 of this season, the Royals shelled him for ten hits but failed to score enough runs. He allowed only two earned runs in his six innings of work. In his career, though, he has struggled in his 150+ innings (at least a complete season of competition for him) worked against the boys in blue. His record is 9-13 with an ERA of 5.74.
Bryan Bullington is coming off an appearance that will be be remembered for his entire career. He pitched eight scoreless frames against the New York Yankees. This former number one overall pick looked like it, baffling some of the best hitters in the entire league. The Royals would love to have a repeat against one of their division rivals. He does have a small history versus the White Sox. He is 0-1 with an ERA of 2.57.
Game 3: John Danks (12-8) vs. Zack Greinke (8-11)
Like Garcia, John Danks has some history with the Royals in his career as a White Sox pitcher. He is 2-0 with a very good ERA of 2.70 in 43.1 innings pitched. He gives his team a good chance to win by going deep in to ball games on a regular basis. He has gone into the seventh inning or later in each of his last six starts. Despite his efforts, only three of these starts ended up in the win column for him. He will have to face Greinke, who is coming off back-to-back solid starts.
Greinke has looked like what he is supposed to look like the past ten days: tough to hit. His ERA is back under four. But his career record versus Chicago is 6-10 with an ERA of 4.35. Even in his most recent win against them, he struggled by giving up six earned runs and only striking out three. If mirrors his last two starts, it will not matter who he’s facing.
The Royals offense struggled in game one vs. Cleveland but did enough for the win. This season they are batting .299 versus Chicago. This includes nine home runs. The White Sox have batted .289 against Royals pitching. But what the Sox lack in percentage they make up for it with their “jack.” They have knocked 60 more home runs this year than the Royals. The Royals need to score early and often to stay ahead of the home run threats the White Sox have. As consistent as the bats were for the Royals against Cleveland, the White Sox hitters bombed the Twins for twenty-three runs.
The Royals are now dead last in the American league in fielding percentage. Chicago is ranked fifth. Both teams have turned over 110 double plays this year. If the Royals continue to play solid defensively they will give their pitchers what they need in the August heat: quick innings. Chicago will try to do the same for their pitchers. In addition, the records clearly show that they have done a better job doing it this year than the Royals have.
The White Sox are sending three of their veteran starters against the boys in blue. Two of them have played in the World Series. The Royals’ pitchers probably have more momentum going into this series than Chicago does. The White Sox lost back-to-back one-run games to the Twins. The Royals on the other hand had outstanding pitching performances by the starters.
Chicago has only won two out of their last eight games, while the Royals have won three of their last four. With the way the Royals have pitched and played defense in the past two series it will be a rough time for the power-hitting Chicago team to put runs on the board.